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Maryknoll Essay Contest Winners
Winners of the 2014 Maryknoll Student Essay Contest


Six middle and high school students representing Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and the Federated States of Micronesia have received cash awards for their winning submissions in Maryknoll magazine's 26th annual Maryknoll Student Essay Contest.

The 2014 essay theme asked students to write a letter to Pope Francis that explains how the student or another young person follows the pope's personal theme for young people—"Have courage. Go forward. Make noise." Pope Francis speaks frequently to the world's youth, whom he considers the "architects of the future."

The contest received close to 8,000 entries from students who competed in two divisions (grades six to eight and grades nine to 12) for nearly $3,000 in cash prizes. The awards included $1,000 for each of the two first-place finalists, $300 for each of the two second-place finalists and $150 to each of the two third-place award recipients.

In their letters, the students explained the countless projects and programs that they and friends support, and, in many instances, organize, as their opportunities to "make noise" and help others. The activities included assisting fellow students who are facing serious medical issues, reaching out to the elderly in communities and even traveling to other countries to connect with children who struggle daily in poverty.

The panel of more than 50 judges comprised of Maryknoll missioners was astounded and humbled by the variety of examples of serving others presented in the letters written by middle and high school students across the country and from overseas.

"It was a blessing to have a chance to read some of the entries," said Father Emile Dumas, one of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and Maryknoll Sisters who helped judge the contest. "They inspired me and filled me with hope for our future missionaries."

Letters of all 2014 winners will be sent to Pope Francis and the essays written by the first place winners in each category are to appear in the May/June 2015 issue of Maryknoll magazine.

The 2014 Maryknoll Student Essay Contest Awards will be presented to:

Division I (grades six to eight)

First Place ($1,000): The Bishop Francis X. Ford Award is named in honor of the Maryknoll priest who died in a prison in China during 1952.

     • Raquel Lacusky (seventh grade), St. Agnes School, West Chester, Pennsylvania. Teacher: Mrs. Jennifer Charney. Read essay.

Second Place ($300)

     • Dominic Massi (eighth grade), St. Anastasia School, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Teacher: Mrs. Joanna Fabii. Read essay.

Third Place ($150)

     • Victoria Kovarik (seventh grade), St. Paul School, Princeton, New Jersey. Teacher: Mrs. Sally Chrisman. Read essay.

Division II (grades 9–12)

First Place ($1,000): The Bishop Patrick J. Byrne Award is named for the missioner who died on a forced march in Korea during 1950.

     • Grace Mitchell (12th grade), Pecos High School, Pecos, Texas. Teacher: Tiffany Overby. Read essay.

Second Place ($300)

     • Sarah Lohrfink (11th grade), The Catholic High School of Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland. Teacher: Dr. Anna Berger. Read essay.

Third Place ($150)

     • Decyann Pete (11th grade), Yap Catholic High School, Yap, Federated States of Micronesia. Teacher: Father Patrick Nolan, S.J. Read essay.

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